Alabama coach Nick Saban holds no hard feelings against former quarterbacks Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett after each recently criticized him for a belief that they were misled.
Saban told ESPN.com Thursday that he tries to do his best in terms of communicating with the quarterbacks when it comes to playing time, which was the basis of their criticism.
“We try to give everybody a fair chance to win the position,” Saban said. “I feel like it’s my job to do a good job of making the best choice and decision for our team. And one of the most difficult things is sometimes that’s not what everybody else would like for it to be. You can’t make everybody happy. Everybody wants to play; I have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys as competitors.
“I wish those guys well. They did a great job for us and this program, and I hope they do well wherever they choose to take their career now.”
Both Bateman, who was a redshirt junior last season, and Barnett, who was a redshirt freshman, were beaten out by Jalen Hurts, a true freshman, for the starting quarterback job.
Entering last season’s opener against USC, both Bateman and Barnett believed different things than what turned out to be the case in the case of playing time. While Saban hadn’t yet named a definitive starter at quarterback, Barnett started the game, but Hurts, somewhat unexpectedly, played the majority of it.
Bateman only played at quarterback in the final series of the game to help run out the clock in Alabama’s 52-6 win.
Saban said the week of the game that the quarterback competition was between Bateman and Barnett, which is what Bateman believed would be reflected in the game; Barnett thought the starting job already was his.
Saban, though, says he has no regrets about how he handled the situation.
“I tried to do the best job that I could to tell them exactly how we were going to play the quarterbacks and the opportunity that they had,” Saban said.
Bateman is now at Utah and Barnett is with Arizona State. Barnett left the Crimson Tide after the fourth game of the season after his father found out about a rule that would make him eligible to play in one calendar year. His decision brought harsh criticism from Saban.
Hurts, who ended up winning SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors, came within two minutes of helping Alabama go 15-0 and win the national championship.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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